Archive for July, 2007

Booming Dubai.

There were two separate reports this week which confirm that two of the things people say about Dubai are true. One, that Dubai is all about working, about doing business. Two, that Dubai is expanding at a furious pace.

The first report from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry gave the astonishing fact that the emirate, with a population of 1.3 million, has over 100,000 registered companies.

That’s a registered company for every 13 people, man, woman & child, an amazing statistic.

But it really does just confirm what those of us living here have always realised. The reason for Dubai’s very existence was trade, doing business. It wasn’t a fertile area so the inhabitants relied on the sea – fishing, pearling and trading. The Creek, Al Khoor, an inlet from the Gulf around which Dubai was established gave shelter to the dhows trading with Iran, the sub-continent and East Africa.

So from the earliest times Dubai has relied on trade for its existence. It’s a vital part of the culture.

The second report was on the exploding population.

Doomsayers have been questioning the growth – ‘thousands of new buildings but who will live in them’ is a regular question from the doubters. ‘White elephants. They’ll be empty’.

Well, figures just released show that 292,000 new residents a year are coming to Dubai. That’s 800 new people a day. Eight hundred new people every day! A few people leave every year of course, but the figures show that the population will double in four years.

Burj Dubai is world’s tallest tower.

Yesterday evening Burj Dubai overtook Taipei 101 to become the world’s tallest tower, reaching 512.1 metres (1680 feet). It already had the most floors in the world when it reached 120 , but now has 141 and still has a long way to go.

Here’s a photograph I took this morning – unfortunately a hazy, dusty morning with a swirling wind causing dust to blow about.


Major development announcements

Several new landmarks in Dubai’s progress are in the news this week.

The one that’s most going to make our lives a little easier is the opening of the (temporary) Floating Bridge across Dubai Creek. With the recent opening of Business Bay Bridge we now have five alternative crossings and that should help to spread the load and ease the horrendous bottlenecks. These are the first new crossings since Shindagah Tunnel was opened about 25 years ago.

The six-lane bridge will be used until a permanent bridge can be built alongside it. Costing US$81.6 million it is built with 20 metre-wide hollow concrete blocks which float on water. It joins the area in Bur Dubai near Creek Park and Dubai Courts with Deira near City Centre Mall and Creek Golf & Yacht Club.

Photo: Devadasan. Gulf News.

The other transport landmarks are the arrival of the first articulated, extra-long buses and the starting of the water bus service across the Creek.

But the announcement that will get world-wide publicity is that Burj Dubai is on schedule to become on Saturday the world’s tallest building. More of that later.

Relief in sight from high hotel rates

Dubai is such a magnet for both business visitors and tourists that our hotel rates are amongst the highest in the world. In spite of that the hotels regularly run at over 90% occupancy and very often at 100%.

So it’s good news for visitors that by the end of 2008 we should have an additional 22,000 rooms available, an increase of about 50%. When they come on-stream it should help to bring prices down – or at the very least, allow people to visit when they want to because rooms are available. I’ve had several visitors who’ve had to change their dates because there are simply no rooms to be had when they wanted them.


Water bus service to begin

The new water bus service on Dubai Creek has been announced as starting on Sunday.

In addition to the traditional abras, this will give commuters and tourists a modern, air-conditioned alternative for travelling between Deira and Bur Dubai. The one-way fare is initially going to be AED4 but that may be raised when the final fare is agreed by the Dubai Executive Council. Abra fare is AED1 each way.

Ten water buses will be operating from 6am to 11pm daily and there will be four commuter routes plus a tourist route. The tourist route will be between Shindagah, which is the heritage site of the original settlement that became Dubai, and Al Seef in Bur Dubai, a trip of 25 minutes that will cost AED25.

Hello, Dubai.

Let me just continue Seabee’s previous post. The Dubai Airport is truly staggering, especially if you come from a not-so-glittering-yet-efficient-and-decently-run airport that Chennai (MAA) is. And, DXB is tiringly big. Arriving passengers have about a mile and a half to walk, just to get to the visa collection area. Throw in a few stairs (oh, well, Escalators) and a long queue at the passport control, and you have what’s a brilliant way of keeping me hungry for a long time.

But, well, introductions, first. I’m Chandru, till recently a resident of Chennai, India.

Chennai, they say, is one of the best airports in India. And one-heck-of-a-city. I’d like to think so. But, Dubai will be home, I think, for a little while more. Give me a few days (or weeks, more likely) to explore this city, and some time to settle in, walk around, get my bearings. And I shall blog this city up for you all.

DXB surging ahead

Although we’re growing at an explosive pace, Dubai is still a very small city by world standards. Population is somewhere around 1.4 million for the emirate of Dubai.

But our position in the world of travel and trade is way beyond that reality.

For example, Dubai International Airport is now listed as the world’s tenth biggest airport by international traffic, behind Bangkok and ahead of Seoul, South Korea.

For the first half of 2007 the airport reported that it handled 16.2 million passengers and had a total of 127,000 flights. All this with only one runway!

The second runway and new terminals are close to completion, so we can expect even more records in the second half of the year.

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